At a time when commercial and recreational fisherman are demanding more intelligence and better data from NOAA, why is this state of the art facility and its staff on the chopping block? Closing this location will have major regional implications on fish, fisherman and habitat in New Jersey, New York, Delaware and Pennsylvania.

The James J. Howard Marine Sciences Laboratory is ideally located out on the Sandy Hook peninsula. This location is second to none when compared to NOAA’s other facilities. Complete with a 32,000 gallon, two story research aquarium, with computer operated lighting and controls and 11 seawater labs utilize a modern Seawater system capable of pumping 350 gallons per minute.

Fisheries experiments conducted at other locations, with different types of water cannot produce the same conditions needed to accurately determine what the NY/NJ Bights gamefish require for survival. Over the years the Northeast Fisheries Science Center lab has worked on countless projects involving Jersey’s Summer Flounder (Fluke),

Striped Bass, Bluefish, Black Sea Bass,Tautog (Blackfish) and other species of great concern to all anglers.

They even do acoustical tracking studies on bluefish and striped bass that live in the Navesink river.

Heavy equipment clearing the Calco Dam on the raritan June of 2011

This will open up the first 7 1/2 miles of stream to enable troubled species like Alewife and Blueback (River Herring), Striped Bass and American Shad clear passage to ideal upstream spawning grounds and ideal juvenile growth habitat.

With stocks down 97% the river herring need every break

possible if they are going to recover!

Over the past 25 years or so, since the upriver industrial dumping of nastiness has ceased, The Raritan River strain of Striped bass have returned and spawned successfully. This dam removal project will enable them to go even further upstream to more ideal waters and hopefully increase the amount of young and put the Raritans Striper stocks back on the chart!

Staff from this Sandy Hook division has also partnered with Farliegh Dickenson University, American Littoral Society,the Barnegat Bay Partnership and more. Fish focused projects to restore eelgrass that is the virtual backbone of juvenile marine habitat that helps many species survive when they are most vulnerable to predation. The Eelgrass restoration project is essential for re establishing a vital habitat component for this important gamefish nursery.

Our juvenile weakfish, summer flounder, bluefish and even Tautog (Blackfish) use this grass as shelter and as forage area. Folks that fish the bay know that without the grass, there are no grass shrimp, and without the grass shrimp you have no weakfish!

Gamefish depend on a healthy marine ecosytem and Bay scallops depend upon healthy acres of Eelgrass beds for a better environment to live and reproduce in. Bay Scallop numbers are way down and these grasses are vital to restoration of the species. NOAA scientists have had exciting results in Barnegat Bay and in Peconic bay in NY.

Locally, NOAA funded and worked with the NYNJ Baykeeper to establish oyster beds in Raritan Bay. Oyster reefs provide an ideal foundation for all of our forage species and enable for striped bass, bluefish and weakfish to find dinner.

There are five NOAA labs that are currently doing of ocean acidification experiments, an issue that affects all mid atlantic species and specifically shellfish. Of the 5 labs, the lab at Sandy Hook is considered to be the best location because of the state of the art seawater system.Closing Sandy Hooks Lab would be a major setback for this progressive research and much more.

Moving these and other experiments and staff members to either Milford, Connecticut or Oxford, Maryland will have direct negative impact upon Jersey’s waters, gamefish and fisherman.

NJ Senator Bob Menendez has stepped up to the plate as an angler advocate and on behalf of New Jersey’s multimillion dollar recreational fishing industry that we are all a part of.

Just last week he teamed up with Senator Frank Lautenberg and Congressman Frank Pallone and submitted a letter to President Obama urging reconsideration of this budgetary action.

They need your support and Recreational anglers and concerned citizens need to get involved and take action. Decisions are being made daily and you should reach out to your representative as well as:

Dr. Jane Lubchenco
Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator

Dr.Richard Merrit

Director of Scientific Programs & Chief Science Advisor

Woods Hole, MA


Please visit this link to sign petition:

NOAA Lab and childrens programs, related photos: